For many Islanders, staying warm this winter will be no easy task.
With recent changes to eligibility for employment insurance, countless Islanders already finding it difficult to get by will have greater difficulty in making ends meet this winter.
And with increasing fuel costs, which seem to be rising every month, and food prices, which are higher with each weekly trip to thegrocery store, even more families will be tightening their belts.
With fewer dollars coming in and more going out, families are being left with the decision to buy food or heat their homes.
It’s a hard decision to make, one that no one should have to make. Unfortunately, it is one now being made by too many.
Food prices are expected to rise as much as 3.5 per cent this year, according to the University of Guelph’s Food Price Index.
And it’s the mostly commonly used food items that will see the biggest jump.
The price of milk is expected to rise as much as three per cent this year; bread four per cent; eggs by five per cent and meat between four and six and a half per cent.
It’s hard news for shoppers, particularly those on a fixed or low income, to digest.
And it is an unfortunate reality that will leave some cold this winter.
Fortunately, the Salvation Army, once again, with the help of the province and the P.E.I. Petroleum Marketer’s Association, will be able to provide some help.
Beginning today, the Salvation Army in Summerside and the Charlottetown location, will begin taking applications from those in need of an emergency oil delivery.
Each delivery will be 400 litres. Applications must be filled out in person. Applicants have to meet certain criteria in order to be eligible.
But the fear is that it won’t be enough to help all those in need.
Last year, the Summerside Salvation Army helped provide oil to 95 homes. The money administered by the Summerside Salvation Army dried up in 10 days.
It was only a couple of years ago that the province was encouraging Islanders to access its Office of Energy Efficiency to seek out ways to make their homes more energy efficient.
But if Islanders couldn’t pay the cost of a minimum oil delivery, how likely is it they could afford to make upgrades to their homes for the sake of energy efficiency?
While the help being offered beginning today is welcome, it won’t help all who need it. Let’s hope that as household incomes stagnant or decrease and costs increase, something better than a one-time emergency oil delivery will be offered.
Let’s hope the province and the federal government do more in the future to ensure that all Canadians can stay warm.